Three times i've seen this without being able to write about it. Watching it feels as painful as the pain its trying to show.
"It hurts when we love somebody. Because loving is a painful thing. That is its nature. Our loving is hurting us" reads dumpy adolescent Gail (what is the book? My guess is R D Laing)
"Love hurts" is the over-riding (sometimes overbearing) theme of the film. The thematic treatment supplants any kind of plot or through-run story.
Therefore condense drama to concentrate emotion: still the life, compose the frame, minimalise the dialogue. No panning or tracking or moving off with camera. Stay still. Be here. With this that hurts. The effect is to feel oppressively overloaded on monochromal, monotonal, misery.
This is all stylistically engaging. Racing in the car fast down a dark country lane; all the sound is cut except for the 2 boys talking - like being immersed inside the bubble of them, cut off from the outside, focused right in to the heart of their isolation.
Yes, this is relentlessly, almost - courageously - grim, but worth it. A lot of very miserable face going on. Faces without smiles, without warmth, lacking, unwarmed by love. Faces of lads are all so null and void its hard to distinguish one from the other.
All is shadow and blue inertia, with very little light to provide contrast.
Better Things isn't so much about the perils of doing drugs. It's about how difficult it is to love when love feels unobtainable, or even non-existent. Deprived of love, life disappears, becomes denuded - gets gloomily unbearable. Seems to be the message.
Disturbingly, the setting isn't inner-city London, Manchester et al - but the least place you'd expect to see urban anomie and alienation, - the supposedly "lovely" Costwolds.
I'll be keeping this film. Doubt I'll want to watch it another 3 times though.